Every year, there are over a million people who lose their limbs worldwide. And because of the price of a traditional prosthesis, about 90 percent of that number cannot afford to buy artificial limbs for themselves.
Mitt Wearables is a company put up by two young entrepreneurs, Ben Lakey and Nate Macabuag, who was inspired by Lakey’s amputee sister. “I witnessed the broken process of prosthetics design and purchasing with my own eyes after my sister’s amputation,” says Lakey. “No one should have to go through the difficulties that she did. We want to fix that system – and make her something she is proud to wear every day.”
They aim to provide user focused and affordable prosthetics, by using reverse engineering. To the duo’s surprise, this is not the method done in traditional prosthesis yet. “At Mitt we think it’s really simple; we start with the user, and work backward to the technology,” explains Macabuag. “It seems obvious but it ended up leading us down a very different path to what we saw going on in the industry, and towards a design that is incredibly user focused.”
In 2018, Macabuag won the People’s Choice Award while Lakey was awarded a fellowship in the Launchpad Competition for young entrepreneurs at the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub. The Enterprise Hub gave their support to the duo to help them turn their innovation into a successful and sustainable business.
The head judge for the competition, Elspeth Finch, praised Lakey and Macabuag for their innovation and participation in the competition and how motivating the young pair is. “Nate and Ben are inspiring engineers, and Mitt was a deserving winner of the People’s Choice Award at Launchpad,” she said. “Mitt is a fantastic example of the best of British engineering innovation.”
The prosthetic limbs from Mitt Wearables are soft and adaptable, making them user friendly, even for children who easily outgrow items like this. A three-year-old girl has already received her Mitt and it has so far helped her learn new skills like painting, and it also enabled her to join various activities like gardening with her parents. She is now able to hold objects with two hands as well, thanks to her customized prosthetic arm.
Each ‘Mitt’ would cost about less than 650 dollars, a small fraction of what it costs to get traditional ones, and will debut in the spring of next year for beta launching.